Techno-Economic Comparison of Biomass-to-Transportation Fuels Via Pyrolysis, Gasification, and Biochemical Pathways

Robert P. Anex, Andy Aden, Feroz Kabir Kazi, Joshua Fortman, Ryan M. Swanson, Mark M. Wright, Justinus A. Satrio, Robert C. Brown, Daren E. Daugaard, Alex Platon, Geetha Kothandaraman, David D. Hsu, Abhijit Dutta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

390 Scopus Citations


This analysis compares capital and operating cost for six near-term biomass-to-liquid fuels technology scenarios representing three conversion platforms: pyrolysis, gasification, and biochemical. These analyses employed similar assumptions to allow comparisons among the results. Most prominently, the feedstock is assumed to be corn stover and plant capacity was 2000 tonne/day for each plant. There are large differences in the total capital investments required among the three platforms. The stand-alone biomass-to-liquid fuel plants are expected to produce fuels with a product value in the range of $2.00-5.50 per gallon ($0.53-1.45 per liter) gasoline equivalent, with pyrolysis the lowest and biochemical the highest. These relatively high product values are driven primarily by an assumed feedstock cost of $75 per dry ton and the cost of capital for the plants. Pioneer plant analysis, which takes into account increased capital costs and decreased plant performance associated with first-of-a-kind plants, increases estimated product values to $2.00-12.00 per gallon ($0.53-3.17 per liter) gasoline equivalent.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)S29-S35
Issue numberSupplement 1
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A2-47290


  • Biochemical
  • Biomass
  • Gasification
  • Pyrolysis
  • Techno-economics


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